Answer: You could start by connecting with the Special Education Department, as the student has an IEP. It appears that his disability will prevent him from getting to school if no one is able to transport him from the apartment to the bus. Therefore, his IEP team probably needs to develop a solution, quickly. It would appear that specialized transportation, including some way to get the student up and down stairs, would have to be part of the child’s IEP, or else he won’t be able to benefit from a free, appropriate public education.

In addition, this barrier would also arguably have to be removed under the McKinney-Vento Act. It is a barrier to full participation in school, and it is clearly related to his homelessness. 42 U.S.C. 11432(g)(1)(I).

There are likely some accepted, careful ways to get a student in a wheelchair up and down a flight of stairs–methods that would be considered the standard for “reasonable care,” keeping the student safe, and helping protect the school district from liability. This is another reason to start with the special ed team, as they should have access to experts who can ensure the transportation is safe and appropriate. Whether this is part of an IEP or pursuant to McKinney-Vento, the school definitely will want to address it with reasonable care.

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